Nutritional Support for Bipolar Disorder

Being labeled with any condition, disease or disorder can feel like a burden and if it is a mood disorder it can sometimes feel like, “it’s all in my head”, rest assured, it is not. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder impacts approximately 2.6% of the US population. (1)

A variety of treatment options are available and focus on coping with the highs and lows of the swinging moods. These therapies are best complimented by a good diet to ensure you optimize nutrition to prevent any deficiencies.

Our relationship with food can sometimes be a love/hate kind of thing! 35% of people with bipolar disorder are obese and also 3 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. (2)

Eating includes what, when, how much, and with whom we share meal times. Developing a healthy relationship with food is important. This article will provide you with a few ideas to establish a healthy relationship and educate you on nutrients to pay attention to.

Idea for establishing a healthy relationship with food.

  1. Use the hunger scale. Only eat when you are truly hungry.
  2. If possible include others’ during meal times
  3. Avoid talking negatively about food or yourself.
  4. Keep a meal and snack schedule
  5. Plan ahead-keep a budget and meal plan.

Nutrients to pay attention to.

  1. Keeping the sodium in your diet consistent is important if you are taking lithium. If you are taking lithium then don’t dramatically change the amount of sodium you are eating without talking to your doctor as changes in sodium can impact the amount of lithium in your body.
  2. The recommendation is to keep sugar intake to 10% or less of your daily calorie intake. Excess sugar can increase triglycerides, weight gain and energy highs and lows.
  3. Omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits. The exact way omega-3 fatty acids work in the brain to reduce symptoms of depression is unclear, however multiple studies site the benefits of helping reduce depression. (3)(4)
  4. Magnesium comes from oatmeal, brown rice, fish, spinach, almonds and other foods. Magnesium intake should be between 320-420 milligrams per day. Doses of 300-600 milligrams have shown to have effects similar to lithium. (5)
  5. Iron deficiency is common however excesses result in an increased risk for bipolar disorder. (5) Be sure to have your doctor screen you for nutritional deficiencies or excesses.


  1. Bipolar Disorder Among Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2017, from
  2. Bipolar disorder statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2017, from
  3. Omega‐3 fatty acids for bipolar disorder. (2008, April 23). Retrieved June 27, 2017, from;jsessionid=AF5C94C135D7A1C661C898C528FD570A.f04t04?systemMessage=Wiley%2BOnline%2BLibrary%2Bwill%2Bbe%2Bunavailable%2Bon%2BSaturday%2B01st%2BJuly%2Bfrom%2B03.00-09.00%2BEDT%2Band%2Bon%2BSunday%2B2nd%2BJuly%2B03.00-06.00%2BEDT%2Bfor%2Bessential%2Bmaintenance.%2B%2BApologies%2Bfor%2Bthe%2Binconvenience.
  4. Frangou, S., Lewis, M., & McCRONE, P. (2006, January 01). Efficacy of ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid in bipolar depression: randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from
  5. Mahan, L. K., & Raymond, J. L. (2017). Krauses food & the nutrition care process. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.

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